Rural Development

Wo­men are key act­ors in over­com­ing global chal­lenges

More than 815 million people worldwide are suffering from chronic hunger and malnutrition, and the number is rising. x Women and girls make up a large share of the world's hungry.

Po­ten­tial act­ors of change:


  • Women
  • Men

Women hold less than 20 percent of land ownership rights worldwide; in sub-Saharan Africa it is less than 15 percent.x

Key to ending hunger and extreme poverty are the women and men living in rural areas.

  • Women and girls in particular can become important change agents.
  • They make up 43 per cent of the world's agricultural workforce and over 60 per cent in some sub-Saharan African countries. x
  • Women grow a large proportion of the staple foods for their households and are therefore also particularly important for food security. 
  • Women and girls are, however, usually unable to fully develop their economic potential, often being prevented by discriminatory legal and cultural conditions.

For example, women have less than 20 per cent of land ownership rights worldwide – in sub-Saharan Africa the figure is less than 15 per cent. x It is also predominantly women who are in informal employment relationships and who do the majority of unpaid domestic work. This makes it difficult for them to access paid work and protection under labour and social security legislation.

Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment

Achieving sustainable development and overcoming poverty worldwide can only succeed when women and men have equal rights. Policy making and project planning should address the needs and user behaviour of women and girls.

It is therefore important to involve women in decision-making processes while also recording and analysing gender-specific needs and gender-differentiated data in studies.

To establish a fair legal basis for women's rights requires modifications to political processes, national legislation, reforms, regulations and administrative procedures.


  1. Source: FAO et al. (2017) The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 (opens in a new window)
  2. Source: FAO (2011) The State of Food and Agriculture 
  3. Source: FAO (2011) The State of Food and Agriculture
  4. Source: FAO (2011) The State of Food and Agriculture